Justice is Served: The Scourge Files - Chapter Two

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Justice is Served: The Scourge Files - Chapter Two

Postby Capes (Optional) » Tue Aug 25, 2015 5:42 pm

This is part two of a series examining the original Scourge storyline in the 1980s to 1990s, in which an organization devoted to the assassination of super-villains, typically with a modified submachine gun with explosive shells went into action, usually uttering the catch-phrase "Justice is served!" after killing the villain. Adapted from material previously written in the 1990s on an older website, it was put together from memory, but in 2014 I purchased the Scourge of the Underworld trade. Along with the most recent Marvel Index volumes, I am therefore editing this series accordingly. This series covers Iron Man #194 (May 1985) to USAgent #4 (June 1993). It does not cover subsequent appearances of characters called Scourge as all subsequent appearances deviated in key ways from the original concept. On the other hand, hits that were considered unsuccessful even at the time are included. For successful hits, postmortem uses of victims are noted.



WEST COAST AVENGERS #3
(December 1985)
by Steve Englehart (writer) with Al Milgrom & Joe Sinnott (art)

Would-Be Victim: Kraven the Hunter (Sergei Kravinoff)

Disguise: Man in park

Synopsis: While Tigra battles Kraven, Scourge watches the fight and decides not to take the hit, fearing hitting Tigra.

Is it a key part of the Scourge storyline? No

Does it tie in to the main story in this issue? Yes, since the fight between Tigra and Kraven is the focus of the issue.

Other comments: Scourge need not have worried with this one. Kraven commits suicide in his next adventure, in the Fearful Symmetry storyline that ran through various Spider-Man titles (though he was subsequently brought back after a series of successors). Now that the Marvel Age Annual story is canon, it is arguable that Scourge is being extra careful not to hit an innocent this time around as a result of that mishap.
AVENGERS #263
(January 1986)
by Roger Stern (writer) with John Buscema & Tom Palmer (artists)

Victim: Melter (Bruno Horgan); also Keegan

Disguise: Keegan, Melter's assistant

Synopsis: Melter is observing an Avengers Quinjet through a view finder. He gloats to his assistant Keegan that he has a ray that will wipe out Avengers Mansion and everyone in it. He finds the real Keegan dead in a locker, at which point the imposter guns him down, declaring "Justice is Served!"

Is it a key part of the overall Scourge storyline? No.

Does it tie into the main story? No, beyond the fact that the Avengers are present in the mansion as a result of the main story. I don't believe the Avengers ever found out they were in danger.

Postmortem use of victim: Neither Bruno Horgan nor Keegan have been revived. There have been two subsequent Melters (Christopher Colchiss and an unidentified patron of Roderick Kingsley) but no one has taken up the mantle of Keegan as of 2015.

Other comments: This was probably Scourge's most significant hit. We never find out if the ray actually worked. In the case of Keegan, this is the first time a kill occurred off panel; Keegan has never appeared alive anywhere.
THE THING #33
(March 1986)
by Mark Gruenwald (writer) and Ron Wilson & Kim DeMulder (artists)

Victim: Titania (Davida DeVito)

Disguise: Golddigger, a female wrestler

Synopsis: With the Grapplers now gone legit as wrestlers, Titania takes a shower after losing a match with Battleaxe. One of the other female wrestlers, Golddigger shoots her with an explosive bullet, declaring "Justice is Served!" She makes a getaway, claiming it was a man who killed Titania; the Thing suspects Golddigger is the actual killer but is blocked by a distraught Battleaxe, who finds the body and is fooled by Golddigger's story.

Is this a key part in the Scourge story? Somewhat. It would be hard for a male to fit into the Golddigger disguise, making this the first indication that there might be more than one Scourge, who is female; all previous instances of a female Scourge could be attributed to a man in drag.

Does this tie in to the main story in this issue? A lot of the issue is devoted to reintroducing the Grapplers and establishing them as legit wrestlers so it ties in in that sense.

Postmortem use of victim: Another Titania, Mary MacPherson was already active at this point. Davida DeVito is later revived by the Hood and takes on the alias Lascivious.

Other comments: The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Master Edition indicates that Golddigger was in fact the original Scourge, unlikely as that may seem, but subsequent Handbooks treat this Scourge as agent Caprice, making this Caprice's first appearance. An actual Golddigger, Angela Golden later turns up. It is unclear if Caprice was impersonating Golden or if Golden co-opted Caprice's abandoned alias. Probably due to her being naked, we don't actually see Titania die, just Scourge opening fire and then Battleaxe finding the body. Her actual death is depicted in Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe v2#20 (i.e. Book of the Dead Deluxe Edition); #16 credits all death scenes drawn for the Book of the Dead issues to James Fry and Josef Rubinstein. This is the first time a second Scourge hit occurs in the same title, since Scourge killed Miracle Man in Thing #24. This is the first time that a character is killed off by a co-creator (Mark Gruenwald).
FANTASTIC FOUR #289
(April 1986)
by John Byrne (writer and artist)

Victim: Basilisk (Basil Elks)

Disguise: Construction worker

Synopsis: Basilisk crawls up from the construction area of the then-future Four Freedoms Plaza after killing a construction worker. He brags about his return and starts declaring his plans. Another construction worker shoots him out of the building and declares "Justice is Served!"

Is the story key to the overall Scourge storyline? No.

Does the scene tie into the main story in this issue? Not really, beyond tying into the subplot of the new headquarters being built.

Postmortem use of victim: There was a Basilisk before and after Elks, but none of them have any real connection to one another. Basil Elks was later revived by the Hood.

Other comments: This was the first time Scourge was written and drawn by John Byrne, who came up with the name Scourge.
MARVEL FANFARE #29
(November 1986)
by John Byrne (writer/artist)

Victims: Hammer and Anvil (Leroy Jackson and John Anvil)

Disguise: Elderly First Nations man

Synopsis: The Hulk encounters an elderly First Nations man in the desert, who manages to calm the Hulk first by talking and behaving peacefully towards him, then by using neuro-tranquilizing vapours. The old man is clearly expecting additional company, who prove to be Hammer and Anvil. They attack the Hulk from behind. The old man shoots Hammer in the head. With their Anvil's life force linked to Hammer's by a chain, Anvil dies as well, and the old man/Scourge declares "Justice is Served!" A confused Hulk finds Scourge's discarded disguise.

Is is a key part of the overall Scourge storyline? No.

Is it part of the first main story in this issue? Yes, since the the only character in the story besides Hulk and the villains turns out to be Scourge, who apparently learned that Hammer and Anvil were going to attack the Hulk and so used the Hulk as bait.

Postmortem use of victims: Leroy Jackson and John Anvil have not been revived, nor has there been a new Hammer and Anvil team as of 2015.

Other comments: This story was published out of sequence (after Captain America #320) but takes place roughly here. The Scourge trade places it after Amazing Spider-Man #276 but Handbooks place it right before that issue. While not the only story in Marvel Fanfare #29, it is the main one, all done in full pages, with pages with a cartoon Al Milgrom discussing the story right before and after the story. It is unclear if this was an inventory story leftover from John Byrne's short lived Hulk run, or if Byrne did one more Hulk story specifically for Marvel Fanfare. If so, then this made be the first story written and drawn to focus on Scourge (as opposed to Scourge being a peripheral character), though it's not the first story to do so in publication order. Anvil's death is the only time a villain died indirectly rather than directly from a Scourge attack.

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